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Refueled Petron deals Foton Game Two haymaker, forces Game Three



With their desire and composure questioned after their Game One loss, the Petron Blaze Spikers blasted the Foton Tornadoes in Game Two of the Philippine Super Liga Finals 25-13, 25-21, 23-25, 26-24 at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

Petron immediately took control of the match, building an 8-1 lead in the first set off thunderous attacks from Aby Maraño and Rupia Inck. The Blaze Spikers’ lead eventually ballooned unchecked, going up by as much as 11 and never looking back. Foton seemed to crack the Petron offense, taking a 6-3 lead at the onset of the second frame. But Petron quickly retaliated, nibbling at the deficit and rattling off a 5-0 run that brought them ahead 10-15. The disgruntled Tornadoes managed to bring Petron’s lead down to two, 20-22 after back-to-back hits from Lindsay Stalzer and Jaja Santiago. Beast Mode incarnate, Aby Maraño shut the door on the Foton comeback, unloading one of her signature running attacks which Rupia and Dindin Manabat followed up with blocks to cap the set.

Foton finally strung together a magnificent string of rallies, burying the Blaze Spikers in the third frame, 7-1. Petron, however, responded midway through the set, holding tight and lunging at the Tornadoes with a 4-0 run that knotted the set at 18. Petron, however, dampened their own fire, matching every attack point they scored with an error. Setter Erica Adachi served a ball long then Maraño attacked wide pushing Foton ahead 24-22. An exhausted Lindsay Stalzer powered an attack past three Petron blockers to net Foton’s only set win.

The third set’s late nip-and-tuck exchange carried into the fourth frame with neither team pulling away. Foton eventually broke away, 22-19, after kills from Stalzer and Orendain. After a timeout, Petron steadily worked the net for their next four points, with Rupia powering home two consecutive kills before a Stalzer miscue. Orendain then notched a clutch block on Rachel Daquis, then Katie Messing delivered a cross-court kill that handed Foton first crack at set point, 24-23. But Petron had one last run in them, going to Rupia and Manabat on back-to-back plays to grab match point. Messing then fired a shot long that sealed the match.

Brazilian import, Rupia Inck led the Blazers with a game-high 25 points. Former UAAP MVP, Aby Maraño dished out 16 markers off 12 attacks, three blocks, and an ace while former PSL MVP, Dindin Manabat added 16 points as well off 11 attacks, four blocks, and an ace. Brazilian setter Erica Adachi dominated the setting matchup, pouring in 32 excellent sets to Foton setter, Ivy Perez’s eight. Libero Jen Reyes also did marvelously in shoring up the backline, amassing 25 excellent digs and 12 excellent receptions.

“Masaya ako kasi gumana lahat ng mga inensayo naming mga adjustment. Talagang tinarget namin si Lindsay Stalzer ng mga serve namin para mapagod saka mahirapan pumalo. Sobrang ganda rin nang energy ng team kanina. Nakita talaga ‘yung desire namin manalo,” said Petron head coach George Pascua, whose starters each contributed an ace, showing Petron’s focus on lethal serving.

Volleyball journeywoman, Lindsay Stalzer towed the Tornadoes with 23 markers while Jaja Santiago and Stalzer’s fellow American import Katie Messing each had 11 points.

The deciding match of the PSL Grand Prix Finals will take place on Saturday, December 5 at the Cuneta Astrodome. Petron will be shooting for a Grand Slam and a second consecutive Grand Prix title while Foton nears its first title in franchise history.

The Scores

Petron (3) – Rupia 25, Manabat 16, Maraño 16, Daquis 9, Molina 6, Aganon 4, Adachi 3, Cayetano 0, Masangkay 0, Reyes (L)

Foton (1) – Stalzer 23, Messing 11, Santiago 11, Orendain 4, Williams 3, Araneta 3, Delos Reyes 0, Macatuno 0, Acevedo (L), General (L)


Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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Mixed Martial Arts

Rene Catalan continues rampage with TKO win



Rene Catalan continues to turn critics into believers

Filipino fighter Rene Catalan made his sixth appearance inside the ONE Championship cage at ONE: Kings of Courage held at the Jakarta Convention Center in Indonesia, Saturday evening. He faced 21-year-old Chinese athlete Peng Xue Wen in the opening main card bout, and leaned on his elite wushu to stop the young star at the 4:22 mark of the second round.

The victory improves Catalan’s record to 4-2 (1 NC), extends his winning streak to four, and gives him the first TKO stoppage of his martial arts career, as he bids to climb the strawweight ladder in search of the ONE Strawweight World Championship.

“The Challenger” came out in the southpaw stance to open the bout, throwing big hooks and a head kick that narrowly missed as he established the center of the cage from the start of the contest.

The Filipino landed a host of powerful strikes, including a perfectly-placed uppercut and a melee of punishing leg kicks, but Peng’s conditioning and composure kept him in the match as he looked to stand and trade with the man 18 years his elder.

Catalan picked up where he left off when the bout resumed in the second round, this time operating out of the orthodox stance, landing more leg kicks and continuing to deny Peng any space to work.

Despite his dominance on the feet, there was a brief moment of concern for the Filipino on the mat when he jumped into the Chinese wrestler’s guard mid-way through the second round, and immediately found himself in a triangle choke. But the Filipino kept his composure and managed to work himself free.

Once the bout returned to the feet, Catalan poured on the pressure in search of a finish, and he got it with just 38 seconds remaining in the stanza.

“The Challenger” scored big with a liver shot, then unloaded a fierce flurry of punches that forced Peng onto his back foot. Another shot forced Peng to the mat, where a salvo of ground and pound from Catalan eventually forced the TKO stoppage as referee Olivier Coste stepped in to halt the contest.

Photo, story, and video from ONE Championship

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Gelo Alolino regrets Phoenix’s failure to close out Hotshots



Photo by PBA Images

But that achievement of his won’t be that memorable, as it went for naught following a 91-97 defeat they had absorbed into the hands of Paul Lee and Magnolia Hotshots, who have now collected their third straight victory.

For the second overall pick in the regular 2016 Rookie Draft, it was all because of their failure to sustain momentum up until the game’s final buzzer.

“Sayang, nandun na. We felt na sa amin na nung dulo kaso lang ganun talaga,” rued the 24-year-old sophomore after the match, where he shot an excellent 7-of-10 from the floor.

“Breaks of the game napunta sa kabila.”

Phoenix was there in contention all through out the match. In fact, they were even ahead, 89-84, with just three minutes left to play. But then, the Hotshots’ comebacking skills were unleashed, leading to the narrow win.

“Siyempre kami lahat nasayangan. Maganda naman yung team effort talaga namin,” expressed the 6-foot floor general of their end-game collapse, which wasted their efforts in assists (21) and on defense, where they forced Magnolia to 21 turnovers.

“Kami as players talagang gusto namin bumawi coming from a loss last game sa Rain or Shine.

The Fuel Masters have now lost their second straight outing and have dropped to 2-3. And for Alolino, all they have to do is learn as much as they can from this loss, especially now that they are about to face Barangay Ginebra next.

“Yun nga. Medyo masakit para sa’min ‘to,” admitted the National University product.

“All we have to do is magviview ulit kami ng tape para makita kung saan kami mas pwede mag-improve as a team and bawat isa — including me.”

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Glenn Khobuntin repays Ricky Dandan’s trust with end-game heroics



FILE Photo from PBA Images

Glenn Khobuntin can finally say that he had himself a moment in the pro ranks

The National University alumnus proved his worth for Kia Picanto, scoring his team’s final six points to steer the often-ridiculed club to its’ first win after a historic 16-game skid at the expense of Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 98-94.

“I knew he would. I knew he would,” lauded Kia head coach Ricky Dandan of the takeover the six-foot-four forward made.

“It was a blessing he didn’t play for the first two quarters because he [came in] fresh at gigil na gigil.”

Khobuntin finished with 11 markers on 5-of-7 shooting — the best game he’s had so far not because of the numbers he posted but with the way he made it. But the three-year pro does not want to take the spotlight all by himself.

“Hindi lang din naman ako e, kami ding lahat e,” the 26-year-old shared. “Siguro kumbaga nagka-opportunity lang, napunta sa akin yung bola kasi yun yung nasa scheme ng play so ayun.

“Thankful lang ako na-hit ko yung mga na-design na plays.”

However, the third-year pro admitted that he got frightened during the game’s final stretch, as Rain or Shine managed to impose a serious threat by coming back from a seven-point deficit, 94-96, with just less than 22 ticks left to play.

“Kinakabahan ako kasi two minutes pa rin yun e tapos Rain or Shine yung kalaban namin,” the native of Cagayan de Oro said. “Nakita ko nakakabalik sila. Thankful lang naman ako na yung game napunta sa amin, at least natapos yung losing streak namin.”

But more than the end of their months-long slump, what Khobuntin is grateful for is the trust given to him by Dandan, who fielded him as a starter in the second half after sitting out the entirety of the first 24 minutes.

“Nag-decide siya na ako yung i-start niya so thankful ako kasi nagtiwala siya sa akin.”

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Justin Brownlee, Alab lock down Knights for fifth win



Paying a visit to Indonesia for the first time this season, Tanduay Alab Pilipinas needed time to figure the CLS Knights out before stifling the hosts in the final frame to take a 92-87 road win, Saturday evening at the GOR CLS Kertajaya in Indonesia.

This is Alab’s second straight win after losing to the Singapore Slingers last January 10.

With the win, the Philippine-based club team lifts its slate to 5-4 for solo fourth. CLS, on the other hand, dropped to 1-7 — just half a game ahead of the cellar-dwelling Formosa Dreamers.

Justin Brownlee displayed his all-around brilliance in the game, leading Alab with 36 points on 15-for-24 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, seven assists, and three steals.

Alab’s bench however could not sustain the effort of the starters that led to them clinging to a two-point lead with 7:06 remaining.

Needing a sparkplug, 40-year-old sniper Dondon Hontiveros provided the spark for Alab, knocking down a triple that proved to be the starting point 14-2 Alab run. A jumper by Bobby Ray Parks Jr. with 2:57 left capped the rally and gave Alab an 87-73 lead.

Hontiveros scored five of the eight Alab bench points. Fortunately for Alab, Renaldo Balkman and Bobby Ray Parks Jr. were on-point with the former tallying a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds while Alab’s skipper had 14 points, four assists, two rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.

Coach Jimmy Alapag fielded his bench afterwards that resulted to the quintet of Brian Williams, Mario Wuysang, Arif Hidayat, Decorey Jones, and Sandy Kurniawan to slice the lead to as low as four points. Free throws by Oping Sumalinog with eight ticks left put CLS away for good.

Williams paced CLS with 22 points and 14 rebounds while Kurniawan added 19 markers. Indonesian legend Wuysang had 17 points and six rebounds in the loss.

Alab ends its road trip on Sunday, January 28 when they take on the Saigon Heat at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City.

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